John and the Hole

Director: Pascual Sisto
Screenwriters: Nicolás Giacobone

Institute History

  • 2021 Sundance Film Festival

Description

While exploring the neighboring woods, 13-year-old John (Charlie Shotwell) discovers an unfinished bunker—a deep hole in the ground. Seemingly without provocation, he drugs his affluent parents (Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Ehle) and older sister (Taissa Farmiga) and drags their unconscious bodies into the bunker, where he holds them captive. As they anxiously wait for John to free them from the hole, the boy returns home, where he can finally do what he wants.

In his directorial debut, visual artist Pascual Sisto mines this alarming pulp premise for an enigmatic and unsettling meditation on adolescent angst. Adapted by screenwriter Nicolás Giacobone from his own short story, John and the Hole is both a harrowing psychological thriller and a potent coming-of-age fable exploring the difficult passage from childhood freedom to adult responsibility. Through precise, shallow-focus compositions, immersive sound design, and a suspended sense of time, Sisto conveys John’s uncanny experience of “playing house.” Shotwell’s chilling performance suggests an innocent yearning beneath John’s cold, blank exterior, while Hall, Ehle, and Farmiga are exceptional as his beleaguered family.

— M.C.

Screening Details

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